A Beginner’s Guide to Regional Barbecue Sauces

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It’s simple—warmer temperatures and barbecue make the perfect pair; no matter what they’re cooking, people love to enjoy the great outdoors over a delicious meal. To make the occasion even more special, people can indulge in a wide range of barbecue sauces across the United States—each area developing their own tastes and styles. We reveal regional barbecue sauces you need to include at your next get-together.


Alabama-style barbecue sauce is actually white in color! This thin sauce consists of mayonnaise, lemon, pepper, salt, and vinegar. You might be skeptical of the combination of ingredients, but it’s still smooth and delicious—in fact, some would say it tastes like a peppery ranch dressing. Alabama white sauce is popular on chicken wings, and you can even use it as a base for coleslaw.

Kansas City

This sweet, thick sauce is what the average American thinks of when they think of barbecue sauce. Kansas City barbecue sauce has a tomato base, and usually contains brown sugar, chili powder, molasses, and vinegar. Since this widespread sauce is hearty and sticky, you can partner it with absolutely any meat. Just be sure you use this sauce after you cook the meat, as it can burn easily over high heat.


Memphis barbecue sauce is a thin tomato- and vinegar-based sauce that perfectly pairs with grilled or smoked beef, chicken, and pork. It also tastes great when it’s brushed on grilled vegetables! People love this sauce because it has the right amount of sweetness while being a little spicier than your typical barbecue sauce. However, when it comes to Memphis-style BBQ, you can’t forget the rub—it includes garlic, paprika, and other tasty spices.

South Carolina

This pocket of the country thinks about barbecue sauce differently. Inspired by German immigrants, this unique mustard-based sauce has absolutely nothing to do with tomatoes. However, one thing’s for sure: it offers the tang you crave. Along with its yellow mustard base, you can taste cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and occasionally honey. This “Carolina gold” flawlessly complements chicken and pork.

St. Louis

St. Louis’s barbecue sauce is Kansas City’s quieter cousin; while it’s also a tomato-based condiment, it’s thinner and less sweet than KC sauce. Since it’s tangy and won’t burn, you can layer as much as you would like on your meat. This BBQ sauce tastes best on pork ribs and steaks as well as special cuts, such as snoots and tips.


Also known as “mop sauce”, Texas barbecue sauce has an unbelievable flavor profile. Although it’s a thin sauce, it contains a large variety of ingredients—Texas BBQ sauce includes chili powder, cumin, garlic, hot sauce, and Worcestershire. Sometimes, it’ll even contain coffee grounds! If a sauce can bring the heat to a dish, then Texans are all about it. No matter the meat you decide to cook, it’ll taste moist and rich once you slather a little mop sauce on it.


Each of the regional barbecue sauces mentioned above is certain to bring something different to the table. We encourage you to try them all!

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